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Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism
DOD technology and industrial base, it is important to find a role that makes the best use of the national defense asset for homeland security.
Difficulty Implementing Parts of the Research Agenda in This Report
In its descriptions of how science and technology can contribute to counterterrorism efforts, this report outlines a wide range of actions that the agencies should consider taking. However, in some of the critical areas, the committee was not able to identify an appropriate government agency with the capabilities or the mission to take the lead in formulating and funding research or to translate resulting technologies into effective, deployed systems. In these cases, examples of which follow, the committee concluded that enhancement or restructuring of institutional capacity at an operating agency will be required:
Many groups have recognized that most of the transportation modes are not supported by an operational capability to define and manage a research program for protection against catastrophic terrorism. Thus Congress has established the Transportation Security Administration, and this new agency will have a multibillion-dollar budget and tens of thousands of employees. But at present, it has no advanced research capability, little experience in high-tech systems acquisition, and insufficient capability to do the required systems analysis, put needed technology programs in place, and manage them to success. (See Chapter 7.)
Food production and supplies must of course be safeguarded from terrorist attack. But the current food production and inspection system is not designed to provide security against or to recognize intentional attacks. The Department of Agriculture needs the capacity to perform and fund research on plant and animal diseases and to develop and deploy surveillance systems. An agricultural equivalent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might be an appropriate approach. (See Chapters 3 and 4.)
First responders and emergency operations centers will need guidance from the federal government on relevant technologies (such as sensors and protective gear), on training exercises and simulations to prepare personnel and test systems, and on protocols for identifying and responding to different kinds of attacks. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a preexisting relationship with local police, fire, and rescue squads owing to a history of working together on disaster-response efforts, so it would be the logical coordinator between the federal government, particularly OHS, and local groups. However, FEMA will need to drastically expand its experience and programs in homeland security and counterterrorism and to draw heavily on expertise in other agencies in order to provide first responders and emergency operations centers with the necessary information and tools, especially if it is to place greater emphasis on preparing for and anticipating terrorist events. (See Chapter 8.)